App Creation #57 – App Design – Multi-touch

Touchscreens were once limited to single touch commands. A press here and then a separate press elsewhere triggering events, however the best devices now offer multi-touch, which allows for simultaneous control of more than one area of the display.

We are blessed with numerous fingers after all, so why not make the most of them!

The Power of Multi-Touch

There will be instances where a single touch on the screen just isn’t enough to fulfil your ambitions in the app world. Let’s take a moment and look at a real life hobby.

GarageBand on iPhone
GarageBand on iPhone

Pianists will use multiple fingers when playing a chord. Add on top of that a melody line and you are soon looking at a situation where at least four fingers are required. Without the multi-touch technology it would be impossible to recreate this musical performance on a virtual piano.

Gaming

Losing out on a controller with its vast selection of buttons is a huge problem for gaming apps.

Wolfenstein 3D on iPhone with virtual button controls
Wolfenstein 3D on iPhone with virtual button controls

Multi-touch at least allows for multiple controls to appear on screen and with a little dexterity give the gamer virtual controls that represent many of the functions a real game controller would have offered.

Multi-User

Particularly on tablet devices, giving multiple users the chance to participate is obviously a great way of demonstrating the addictive nature of your app.

With an individual sat at one end controlling half of the screen with another at the opposite end with their respective half, the multi-touch features comes into its own.

Be Aware

If the user is required to use both hands in an app, on larger devices this may be difficult due to their increased weight and screen size. A piano performance for example would work perfectly when the device is resting flat on a worktop, however if one hand is holding the gadget leaving only one hand for interaction, it becomes next to impossible to trigger multiple events.

Although you would hope that the user is aware of this limitation and would use a little common sense, you would be amazed how many would still leave a lower score due to this problem. Therefore take this into consideration and continuing our piano example, how about the option of recording a chord section? Once recorded, this would then be heard while the user plays the melody line, therefore getting around this issue as you are only using one hand at any time.

James Woodcock

Freelance Journalist, Author, Blogger & Podcaster specialising in gaming and technology.

Ever since he experienced the first controllable pixel movement on the television screen, he has been entranced by the possibilities and rewarding entertainment value generated from these metal and plastic boxes of delight. Writing hundreds of articles including commentary and reviews on various gaming platforms, while also interviewing well known industry figures for popular online publications.